Fossil fuel divestment is rational, says former Shell chairman

The Guardian reports: The former chairman of Shell has said that investors moving their money out of fossil fuel companies is a rational response to the industry’s “distressing” lack of progress on climate change.

Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, who spent almost four decades at Shell and rose to be its chairman, also said the big oil and gas companies had been calling for a price to be put on CO2 emissions for 15 years but had done little to make it happen.

His striking remarks are the most supportive of divestment made by any senior figure in the fossil fuel business. They will also be chastening for Shell. The company is currently positioning itself to be part of the solution to climate change rather than part of the problem, but faces criticism of its Arctic and tar sands operations.

Moody-Stuart, a geologist, spent 39 years in Shell, finally stepping down in 2005, and was chairman of mining giant Anglo American from 2001 to 2009.

He was gloomy about the prospects of the world beating global warming. “I have met precious few people who think we will stay within 2C,” he said. “But one encouraging sign is a much higher level of interest from investors.” The shareholder resolutions passed recently asking Shell and BP to provide more information on their responses to climate change would not have happened 10 years ago, he said.

But he also approved of fossil fuel divestment, a fast-growing and UN-backed campaign to persuade investors to dump their stocks, on the basis that current reserves of coal, oil and gas are already several times greater than could be safely burned. The Guardian’s Keep it in the Ground campaign is highlighting the divestment argument and calling on the world’s two largest medical charities – the Bill and Melinda Gates Foudnation and Wellcome Trust – to divest their endowments from fossil fuels. [Continue reading…]

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